Thursday, May 24, 2007

Willow Leaves II

When you spend time auditioning fabrics, as I was doing yesterday and last week, there's not much to show for the time invested. So when I got as far as I could, I had an overwhelming urge to do something I could have success at and have something concrete to show for it. There's nothing like working at the machine if productivity is the aim, and I've been really anxious to get going on the quilting of Willow Leaves II. So I ended my day yesterday with an hour or so of machine quilting.

Now that's really saying something for me to consider a session of free motion quilting the road to success. I more often than not struggle with my machine quilting, and often am unhappy with it. But the stars must have been aligned, or I was just desperate. The session went flawlessly, and I experienced that calm the steady hum of the machine often gives me.

Willow Leaves II is one of my experiments with leaf stamping using Liquitex acrylic paint. First step in quilting would be to stitch around each leaf and up through the center. I did this with a lustrous brown Polyneon thread. Here you can see how nicely the quilting is beginning to define the leaves from the background.

This step went so well, I was more than ready to tackle the next step today. The background batik reads a little busier than I anticipated, so I thought if I heavily quilted it with the grey variegated King Tut cotton thread, it would be toned down and the leaves would stand out better. One of my goal for this series is to find ways to make the background look like pavement. In the first Willow Leaves, I used a squiggle stitch and monofilament thread (see here). It sort of gave that feel, but the clear thread was a mistake. After trying out this thread and the garnet stitch on last month's journal quilt, I was ready to be bold and use it here.

Well, it may not be any less busy than the batik itself, but it surely looks like pavement to me. I'm finding the stitch fairly forgiving, and relatively easy to get a rhythm going with. Any fullness is easy to quilt flat, and I don't seem to be getting any distortion. This may be more due to the batting than the stitch - I'm using Hobbs 80/20 black which is quite dense and stable itself.

I got almost half quilted today - the density of the garnet stitch makes it slow going and no doubt is using up tons of thread, but I'm really getting enamored of close quilting. This is tons more interesting than a meander or stipple stitch of the same density. I wouldn't want to sleep under a quilt stitched this way, but for wall art, or even a handbag, this is terrific.

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